Those in power have no power if we give them no power!

Nadine MayStarred Page By Nadine May, 23rd Jan 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2u5grvna/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Sales & Marketing

Our personal experience with affirmative action in the publishing industry in South Africa and what the results are today.

Challenged by situations

This is not my usual article topic, but this morning I felt the call to write it anyway. Sometimes when we are repeatedly being challenged by situations that feel dis-empowering, we need to take action.

What is affirmative action?

Affirmative action programs in South Africa have allowed women and what are known as ‘previously disadvantaged individuals’ (in our case due to race discrimination) entry into professions formerly off limits to them.
Like the idealism behind the principles of communism, the affirmative action policy was a just and good law to bring into action, but...only in a perfect society.

A big company like “Exclusive books” we are dealing with for example must create an action plan which makes sure it has the right proportion of designated people – black, colored, Indian, female and disabled people, working in all levels of the organization.

In South Africa affirmative action does more harm than good.

Why? Because our country is run predominantly by people who fall under the race referred to as Black. Yes racism is still thriving. The majority of people, who fall under the label as Blacks, may wonder if they have been engaged for their skills or merely for the company to fall within the law, whilst white (most European) mixed race and Indian people are frustrated by the narrow window of opportunity afforded them. Morale in the country is thus low.

As a result of this Employment Equity Act in South Africa, the less qualified took priority in employment over those more qualified. (Especially in the Black community since there had been a history of a low standard of education in the past.)

I know from personal experience that during the apartheid years coloreds and Indians were also discriminated against by the apartheid regime, but today the three groups; coloreds, Indians and whites are now minorities and are now being discriminated against.

When Mandela was elected as President

1994 brought a new dawn for the country that was to become known as the Rainbow Nation.
For the first time in my life I was allowed to cast a vote. Being a permanent resident in SA and a Dutch passport holder, I was never allowed by Dutch law to vote, but this time exceptions were made. I stood in a long queue with people from all race groups. The jubilant atmosphere was clearly felt by us all. The hours that it took to be able to vote for Mandela and his party, was never seen as a negative experience.
I love this country and its entire population, but then I love humanity in its totality, no matter what race. We were all looking forward to a new rainbow nation and believed in prosperity for all might be a possibility.

South Africa today

Today South Africa has tremendous problems on all levels of society. The hero Mandela, who stood for reconciliation, is gone and Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, who was one of the most effective activists against South African apartheid and has never learned to hate, now speaks out but is not heard by the ruling party.
Tutu said that the attempt to boost black economic ownership; benefiting only an elite minority, while political "kowtowing" within the ruling ANC, that is now hampering democracy.
Tutu warned of corruption shortly after the re-election of the African National Congress government of South Africa, saying that they (the elite few) "stopped the gravy train just long enough to get on themselves.

Has Mandela's legacy already left the ANC?

From my own experience as a white Dutch immigrant and my Cape Town born partner Robin our working life is more difficult. We love our work and are grateful to still be in business, so it’s not due to us losing our jobs due to the Affirmative action act, like so many others have, that our times are harder. In our case we have to deal with the gross incompetence of the head office and account department of Exclusive Books” and how as a company it is run today.

There are lots of people, mostly bookshop managers, whom we deal with daily who do everything in their power to do a proper job, but they are hampered by a few who probably sit at the very top of the ‘gravy train’ using the by now well known phrase.

The stress of short staffed employees

It’s a well known fact that in difficult economic times, companies seek to reduce costs. Their immediate thought is to cut the highest cost, the workforce.
• Pressure will come about when people are asked to do unfamiliar tasks, tasks that they have not been trained for because the skilled person has been replaced by Black staff that are not able to cope and without any in-depth training.
• Not knowing the task at hand leads to having a lack of pride in doing a good job and ultimately results in a low morale.
• Even those who kept their jobs are now overburdened by being asked to do the tasks originally meant for two or even three people. ‘White’ managers now have to manage three branches each.
• This results in staff being resentful of senior management and they feel a lack of job security and, therefore, confidence.
• This all leads to a negative atmosphere in the workplace, which inexorably leads to lower productivity.
• There is a kind of sickness in the company for the above reasons and is the main reason why we have taken the following action.

We have now temporary blacklisted our biggest customer

For the past two weeks we have stopped filling Exclusive book orders. This was a great step for us, since they are our largest customer, but we now just need to take our power back.
Robin has notified each branch that has placed an order of the reasons way we are not filling an order, unless it’s a direct customer order; a person who has already paid for the book.
We still are willing to take that risk since we do not want an Exclusive books customer to be the loser.
Their last (part) payment was during October. Some outstanding statements to them are already overdue by a year! Every time Robin has to re-fax all the details, because yet again a different person is dealing with Kima Global’s account.

What we can’t invoice Exclusive books for is the amount of phone calls and the many pages Robin has had to keep faxing, due a new person appointed to deal with our account – not to mention the lost time that could have been spent more productively.

Is this economic sickness in the company spreading globally?

We hope not. We both still keep our spirits up and know that we will survive, because we love what we do. Publishing books that make a difference to people’s lives.

Our own website sales are slowly increasing. This will benefit all our authors since their bi-annual royalty amount will increase due the minimal cost for us, their publisher. Cash before delivery! Website sales have fewer costs for us. No agent fees and courier service charges; not to mention the hassle we have to go to in order to get paid.
What most book buyers do not know is that bookshops in SA demand up to 45%+ discount of the retail price for a sale or return book!
They do not really buy a book, they borrow them!
Thank goodness for the independent bookstores in SA who are still in business.

All our titles are also for sale on many online book stores around the globe, including all the downloadable ebook and kindle files. By the time that this article has done its rounds, we still hope we come right with Exclusive Books, but until then, we will stick to our decision.

The world of a publisher is drastically changing, but is it for the best? I feel that in the long run yes, especially for the smaller independent publishers that know all the tricks of the book trade.

Tags

Books, Books For Children, Bookseller, Bookshops, Bookstore, Business, Business Ethics, Power Of The Mind, Power Of Thoughts, Publishing

Meet the author

author avatar Nadine May
I'm a novelist but think in pictures. I Love innovative design, graphics, art & crafts
If you like to read paranormal- visionary fiction - Find me at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003ZWLLOE

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Comments

author avatar spirited
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Nice to have an insiders perspective about all of this.

Maybe the rainbow nation will finally find its own pot of gold, and not be exploited for it.

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author avatar Nadine May
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Yes we see that in our visions as well, and in the mean time do our best to stay in business.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
24th Jan 2014 (#)

A great write, Nadine. I do hope South Africa is able to resolve this sad predicament. Affirmative action to empower the disadvantaged benefits only few and the vast majority becomes worse off over time. India too have what is called "reservations" for the disadvantaged, who were exploited earlier, and that policy has made some of them immensely rich as they run away with the entire spoils - siva

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author avatar Nadine May
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Thanks for reading my story I'm really glad that I wrote this article because of the comments. Yes I gather that similar things happen in India.

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author avatar Retired
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Nice article.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Its so tough to know how to fight a system where the fight will make a difference and hurt the corporation making the bad practice -- and not the consumer or the hapless employee who feels just as stuck as we!!! It's so hard to rise up when we can't even see the opaque ceiling we're rising up against. But I respect your efforts to try and to communicate through appropriate channels why you are making the decisions you are -- plus sharing with us so we can have a clearer picture. Thanks.

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author avatar Nadine May
24th Jan 2014 (#)

I'm very glad that I did share this with you all, and whoever will read it from now on. I feel that its important to share what a publishing house has to cope with.

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author avatar Retired
24th Jan 2014 (#)

This is a very interesting article. All people everywhere should be equal, and respected and employed or chosen to lead on their merits.

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author avatar Nadine May
24th Jan 2014 (#)

Absolutely, totally agree Jackalyn

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author avatar Connie McKinney
25th Jan 2014 (#)

Interesting perspective. I think there's a perception that all of South Africa's problems disappeared once Mandela was elected. It's not that easy, sad to say.

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author avatar Nadine May
25th Jan 2014 (#)

Now regretfully the apartheid period made very many people very bitter. Its the new generation when Mandela became president who might get things right, but that will take at least 10 more years.

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author avatar joyalariwo
27th Jan 2014 (#)

Interesting and thought provoking article Nadine.
I hope that one day soonest, all these wrongs would be righted.

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author avatar Nadine May
28th Jan 2014 (#)

Thank you yes we keep believing that it will. I must soon read some of your book reviews.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
28th Jan 2014 (#)

this is wonderfully descriptive and knowledgeable article and you have done marvellously well putting it up so others like me can know what is going on...thank you so much Nadine..blessings

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author avatar Nadine May
30th Jan 2014 (#)

Thank you for your compliment Carolina.

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author avatar Souvik
30th Jan 2014 (#)

Very good article Nadine.

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author avatar Nadine May
30th Jan 2014 (#)

Thank you Souvik

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author avatar Kingwell
30th Jan 2014 (#)

I enjoyed this very much as you write well. Let us hope that Mandela's vision for SA had not died.

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author avatar Nadine May
30th Jan 2014 (#)

Kingwell we don't think it has, but our leaders of today are not yet equipped to run a country successfully. Instead greed has taken a hold on many, but not everybody. We hope that our politicians grow up fast.

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author avatar Nadine May
30th Jan 2014 (#)

Kingwell we don't think it has, but our leaders of today are not yet equipped to run a country successfully. Instead greed has taken a hold on many, but not everybody. We hope that our politicians grow up fast.

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author avatar Nadine May
30th Jan 2014 (#)

Sorry for the double reply

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author avatar Kingwell
31st Jan 2014 (#)

It is unfortunate that the leaders do not pay more attention to Desmond Tutu as I feel he has much wisdom. With such a diverse people, SA could be an example to the world. Blessings.

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author avatar Nadine May
31st Jan 2014 (#)

We agree. Desmond Tutu is a very wise man.

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author avatar Diana Thomson
20th Feb 2014 (#)

A very well written article Nadine and a very brave one I may say. I do agree totally with your comments on affirmative action. I can only hope that in time those who being well educated will be able to lead with wisdom and without greed and really create the Rainbow nation that we thought we were getting. Sorry I have taken so long to respond but "life" just got in the way.

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author avatar Nadine May
28th Apr 2016 (#)

Hi Diana thanks for this comment that I only saw now. Sorry about that but as you say; life just got in the way..

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